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What’s So Good about Homeschooling and In-Depth Learning?

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What’s So Good about Homeschooling

and In-Depth Learning?

By Linda Dobson


You're helping your homeschooling child learn how to learn.

What is your child interested in? Legos, dinosaurs, fashion, cars, video games, electric guitar? It’s hard to image a homeschooling child studying any of these topics as a condition of optimal learning, but then children are always full of surprises, aren’t they?

Benefits of In-Depth Learning

The key here is not the topic of in-depth study, but the act of in-depth study itself. As homeschooling, and most all, parents have already discovered, it’s a lot more fun to study something we’re interested in, whatever that may be. Here’s Professor C’s take on the topic:

To pursue mental operations to any depth, a person has to learn to concentrate attention. Unless we learn to concentrate, and are able to make an effort, our thoughts will scatter and we will fail to reach any conclusion.

Concentration requires more effort when it goes against the grain of emotions and motivations. A student who hates math will have a hard time focusing attention on a calculus textbook long enough to absorb the information it contains, and it will take strong incentives (such as want to pass the course) for him to do so. Unusually the more difficult a mental task, the harder it is to concentrate on it. But when a person likes what he does and is motivated to do it, focusing the mind becomes effortless even when the objective difficulties are great. (Emphasis added.)

Homeschooling Provides Time for In-Depth Learning

As in Professor C’s example, most children in school receive plenty of opportunity to try to build essential attention and concentration skills in subjects they’re not necessarily interested in. But with homeschooling, you’re in a position to encourage a form of freely chosen study, providing your child with an optimal chance to focus, attend, and concentrate and, thus, to learn. After all, no matter how naturally talented, one doesn’t become a good pianist or chemist or politician or doctor or auto mechanic without having invested a lot of attention in learning what is necessary.

Also see Help Your Child Find “Flow” In Homeschooling

Once your homeschooling child learns to focus, attend, and concentrate on in-depth study, he has gained the ability to transfer these important study skills to subjects that may be less appealing but are necessary nevertheless. “All learning involves transfer from previous experience.” This is the same idea as teaching a man how to fish instead of providing him with a fish to eat each day. In our case, you’re helping your homeschooling child learn how to learn. You are helping to feed his mind for a lifetime.

So let the subject be whatever your child decides – success stories abound! (These examples are all homeschooling children who are now adults.) A young girl allowed to bring home roadkill for study grows up to become a biologist. A little boy who loved boats climbs the ranks in the Coast Guard. A young man who enjoyed the business side of his paper delivery route becomes a multi-millionaire entrepreneur. Having received enough evidence after a few years, one mom trusted and didn’t interrupt her son’s seeming obsession with viewing old television sitcoms and cartoons. I his teen years he advanced to study the psychology of humor. Today, as an aspiring writer, his college teachers rave about his use of humor. Years ago my own household shook with the discordant sounds of a beginning bass guitar player accompanying blaring songs I wouldn’t have chosen to listen to for any other reason. My requests for a Beatles song or two went unfilled. But my son had learned how to learn, and through the years that bassist also taught himself how to play guitar and keyboard, becoming quite talented on all of them. (Still today many of his happiest moments come from playing with the band he’s in.)

In-Depth Learning Adds to the Excitement of Homeschooling

I hope these stories illustrate that while the topic of interest may not be one the parents liked or even encouraged, they had no way of foretelling where that innate interest, well studied, would lead. This adds to the wonder and excitement of homeschooling! I’ve yet to hear one parent say she was sorry she allowed this freedom, or that the results were negative. I believe, as Professor Csikszentmihalyi says in Finding Flow, this is why:

In principle any skill or discipline one can master on one’s own will serve; meditation and prayer if one is so inclined; exercise, aerobics, martial arts for those who prefer concentrating on physical skills. Any specialization or expertise that one finds enjoyable and where one can improve one’s knowledge over time. The important thing, however, is the attitude towards these disciplines. If one prays in order to be holy or exercises to develop strong pectoral muscles, or learns to be knowledgeable, then a great deal of the benefit is lost. The important thing is to enjoy the activity for its own sake and to know that what matters is not the result but the control one is acquiring over one’s attention.

After discovering the pleasure and effectiveness of such learning and not wanting to be left in their children’s dust, many homeschooling parents go on to apply the principle to their own lives. Yours truly unearthed a passion for writing only when I began homeschooling my children and saw the wonderful proof of the power of focus and concentration growing right under my nose.

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